The King sweeps the Oscars
BACKSTAGE PASS - Lanz Leviste () - March 12, 2004 - 12:00am
At a time when the country is preparing for its elections late this year, and Democrats want President Bush out of the White House, America is, right now, paying attention to a much more important vote: the Academy Awards, or more commonly known as the Oscars. During last year’s ceremony, Chicago’s Best Picture win marked the official return of the movie musical; and during the 76th Annual Academy Awards last week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences finally broke its 75-year incarceration against fantasy films: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King much-deservedly won Best Picture, making it the first fantasy film ever to claim the top prize. Not only that, but it swept the awards night by winning a gazillion Oscar statuettes – 11 to be exact – winning every category it was nominated for, and tying with Titanic and Ben-Hur as the single film with the most Oscars ever. Now, I bring you this blow-by-blow for those who weren’t able to catch the entire ceremony, from 10:30 a.m. till 3 p.m. (I was watching RPN’s live telecast on March 1), on the race for the world’s most coveted paperweight.

10 a.m.
: Chris Connelly, Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush, and Entertainment Tonight’s Maria Menounos host the Oscar Red Carpet Pre-Show. The red carpet, the world’s biggest fashion show, is covered with Dior, Versace, Armani, Chanel, Gucci and De la Renta as the hosts badger celebs with generic questions like "How would it feel if you won?" and the celebs quickly answer, "It just feels so good to be nominated."

10:32 a.m.
: The ceremony begins. The cameras pan the entire Kodak Theatre as smiles and cleavage are flashed.

10:33 a.m.
: Sean Connery presents host Billy Crystal’s "The Return of the Host" movie trailer.

10:34 a.m.
: Billy Crystal’s hilarious trailer of "The Return of the Host" is shown, in which he spoofs numerous movie moments of the past year: He rides Seabiscuit, Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton see him nude in Something’s Gotta Give, he hits on Nicole Kidman in Cold Mountain, he explores the seas with Russell Crowe and Johnny Depp in Master and Commander and Pirates of the Caribbean, respectively, and becomes Gollum in The Return of the King, where he refers to Miramax’s Weinstein brothers as "the evil wizards." And in a great move of self-mockery, Michael Moore, who last year during his acceptance speech protested President Bush and the Iraq war, this time protested the war at Minas Tirith.

10:38 a.m.:
His eighth time to host, Crystal enters the stage for his opening monologue as the lights go up, just in time for more Bush jokes: "When I first hosted the Oscars, 13 years ago, Bush was president, the economy was tanking, and we’d just finished a war against Iraq. Imagine that!" He also crooned his Best Picture medley, singing songs about movies like Mystic River to the tune of Ole Man River and The Lord of the Rings to the tune of My Favorite Things, among others.

10:49 a.m.
: Crystal ends his opening monologue to loud applause as the audience pulls out the Kleenex to wipe off the tears streaming down their cheeks.

10:56 a.m.:
Catherine Zeta-Jones, who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar last year for Chicago, presents the very first award of the night: Best Supporting Actor. Protest-prone political activist Tim Robbins wins for Mystic River, and everyone expects his acceptance speech to be this year’s Michael Moore. However, he avoids everything from Haiti to Iraq to the elections, and instead comments on domestic abuse: "In this movie, I play the victim of abuse and violence. If you are a person out there and have had this tragedy, there is no shame in seeking counseling. Sometimes it is the only thing you can do to stop the cycle of violence." The audience applauds.

11:11 a.m.
: Ian McKellen presents a clip from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, the first of five Best Picture nominees to be acknowledged.

11:13 a.m.
: Angelina Jolie presents Best Art Direction. Grant Major, Dan Hennah and Alan win for The Return of the King, the first of its 11 Oscars.

11:17 a.m.:
Crystal introduces Best Animated Feature presenter Robin Williams, saying he’s "the reason for our five-second delay," as Williams tries to "pull a Janet" by exposing his breast. Williams presents the award, and Andrew Stanton wins for Finding Nemo.

11:26 a.m.:
Renee Zellweger presents Best Costume Design. Ngila Dickson and Richard Taylor win for The Return of the King.

11:31 a.m.:
Nicolas Cage presents a clip from Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, the second Best Picture nominee.

11:33 a.m.:
Chris Cooper, who won Best Supporting Actor last year for Adaptation, presents the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Third time’s the charm for Zellweger, who wins for Cold Mountain.

11:38 a.m.:
Tom Hanks presents the Bob Hope tribute montage, showing clips of Hope’s best moments while hosting the Oscars.

11:48 a.m.:
Starsky & Hutch, a.k.a. Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, present Best Live Action Short Film and Best Animated Short Film. The former is announced first, and Two Soldiers wins. Harvie Krumpet then wins the latter.

11:55 a.m.:
Liv Tyler presents the first three of the five Best Song nominee performances. Alison Krauss and Sting perform the haunting You Will Be My Ain True Love from the film Cold Mountain. Krauss, with Elvis Costello and T Bone Burnett, then sing Scarlet Tide, also from the film Cold Mountain. Finally, Annie Lennox performs Into the West, this time from The Return of the King.

12:14 p.m.:
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith present Best Visual Effects. For the third year in a row, a Lord of the Rings film wins (The Return of the King).

12:17 p.m.:
Jennifer Garner, who hosted the Sci-Tech Oscars on Valentine’ s Day, shows clips and highlights of the event.

12:19 a.m.:
Jim Carrey presents legendary auteur Blake Edwards with this year’s Honorary Oscar. Edwards receives a standing ovation.

12:33 p.m.:
Bill Murray presents a clip from Lost in Translation, the third Best Picture nominee.

12:36 p.m.:
Scarlett Johansson presents Best Makeup. The Return of the King wins.

12:39 p.m.:
John Travolta and Sandra Bullock present Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing. The Return of the King wins the former, while Master and Commander claims the latter.

12:49 p.m.:
Julia Roberts present the Katharine Hepburn tribute montage.

1:01 p.m.:
Oprah Winfrey presents a clip from Mystic River, the fourth Best Picture nominee.

1:03 p.m.:
John Cusack and Diane Lane present Best Documentary Short Subject. Chernobyl Heart wins.

1:06 p.m.:
Naomi Watts and Alec Baldwin present Best Documentary Feature. The Fog of War wins, with renowned director Errol Morris accepting the award, saying that "40 years ago, this country went down a rabbit hole in Vietnam and millions died. I fear we’re going down a rabbit hole again."

1:10 p.m.:
Academy president Greg Pierson presents the Gregory Peck tribute, along with the annual "In Memoriam" montage.

1:21 p.m.:
Sting and Phil Collins present Best Original Score. Howard Shore wins for The Return of the King.

1:25 p.m.:
The Laws of Attraction’s Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore present Best Editing. The Return of the King wins.

1:28 p.m.:
Jamie Lee Curtis presents the two other Best Song nominee performances: A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow, sung by Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara from A Mighty Wind, and Belleville Rendezvous from The Triplets of Belleville.

1:45 p.m.:
Will Ferrell and Jack Black present the Best Song Oscar, however, right after they sing their own little hilarious ditty about overlong acceptance speeches: "This is it/ You’re time is through/ You’re boring!/ You’re rambling on/ No end in sight/ You’re boring!/ No need to thank your parakeet/ You’re boring!/ Look at Catherine Zeta-Jones, she’s snoring!" When they finally present the award, Annie Lennox, Howard Shore and Fran Walsh win for The Return of the King.

1:51 p.m.:
Charlize Theron present Best Foreign Language Film. Canada’s The Barbarian Invasions wins, with producer Denise Robert quipping in her acceptance speech that they were "so thankful Lord of the Rings did not qualify in this category."

1:55 p.m.:
Jude Law and Uma Thurman present Best Cinematography. Master and Commander wins.

2:03 p.m.:
Father-daughter Francis Ford and Sofia Coppola present Best Adapted Screenplay. Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens win for The Return of the King.

2:07 p.m.:
Tobey Maguire presents a clip from Seabiscuit, the fifth Best Picture nominee.

2:09 p.m.:
Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon present Best Original Screenplay. Sofia Coppola wins for Lost in Translation, making her the third generational Coppola to win an Academy Award.

2:18 p.m.:
Tom Cruise presents Best Director. Peter Jackson wins for The Return of the King.

2:22 p.m.:
Last year’s Best Actor winner for The Pianist Adrien Brody presents Best Actress. However, before he announces the winner, Brody sprayed some breath spray into his mouth, poking fun at himself when he planted a big wet one on Halle Berry when he won last year. Charlize Theron wins for Monster, and gives Brody a little smooch.

2:37 p.m.:
Last year’s Best Actress victor for The Hours Nicole Kidman presents Best Actor, and after a head-to-head competition, Sean Penn wins over Bill Murray for Mystic River to a standing ovation. Another political activist, the expected anti-Bush rant from Penn didn’t materialize, with just a little mention that "one thing that actors know...[is that] there weren’t any WMDs [in Iraq]."

2:50 p.m.:
Steven Spielberg present Best Picture. "It’s a clean sweep!" Spielberg exclaims, right before he announces The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King as the champion. During his acceptance speech, writer-director-producer Peter Jackson says that he’s relieved that a fantasy film has finally won: "This is just unbelievable... I’m so honored, touched, and relieved that the members of the Academy supported us and have seen past the trolls and the wizards and hobbits and are recognizing fantasy this year. Fantasy is an F-word that hopefully the five-second delay won’t do anything with."

2:56 p.m.:
Cameras pan all the night’s Academy Award winners onstage as Billy Crystal gives his final remarks.

3 p.m.:
Credits roll, officially ending this year’s Academy Award ceremony. Overall, the Oscars were pretty predictable with no surprises whatsoever; sometimes, I’d want Johnny Depp or Keisha Castle-Hughes to take an acting prize just to add the least bit off shock value. Nevertheless, most of this year’s Oscar winners deserved their golden statuettes.
To Do List Movies
Watch Love Actually. Last week, I reviewed and recommended Love Actually, thinking it was going to be released that week. However, to my mistake, it came out this week.
* * *
For comments, questions and suggestions, e-mail me at lanz_gryffindor@yahoo.com.

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